Sunday, 31 March 2013

Coromandel Coastal Walkway

It was overcast today, ideal to walk part of the seven kilometre Coromandel Coastal Walkway which runs from Fletcher Bay, at the end of the road coming up the western side of the peninsula & Stony Bay, the end of the road on the eastern side. There is no road access right around the tip of the peninsula so this a great way to see this rugged & remote area. It’s a 56 kilometre drive over narrow & winding roads from one bay to the other so it is wise to either walk part of the way then return or if in a group, have a vehicle left at either end & swap keys when you meet on the track. Some even carry their tents & packs & stay overnight at either end, returning the next day.

The views are fabulous, the coastline steep & rugged with jagged rocks, offshore reefs, island & small wild rocky bays as far as you can see. This area is known as the Pinnacle Coast.

Click on the photo to see the rock fisherman in the first photo

The first section crosses the hilly farmland of the Colville Farm Park which was purchased by the Crown in the 1970s, with the intention of preserving the coastline & forested inland slopes for the benefit of all New Zealanders. It was a steady & steep climb through the first paddock where there was a large flock of sheep which had obviously decided they quite like to rest on the level track at night, most of our time was spent dodging large amounts of sheep poo.

The next open section we crossed is known as ‘The Six Foot Track’, an old bridle path constructed & used by pioneers with pick, shovel & wheelbarrow to join the two bays. Not far from here is a valley of flax that early settlers harvested for a mill that they had in Port Jackson where the fibres were dried, baled & shipped to Auckland. The tin shack set high up the slope is used by itinerant scrubcutters.

About an hour and a half after setting off the track passed through a large area of manuka scrub, then we started a steep descent down into Poley Bay which is a small compact cove with a shingle beach. This was going to be our turnaround point. Large pohutukawa, ferns & nikau palms dominated this section & it was a shame to see so many mamaku ferns (Black Tree Ferns) in various stages of dying. Apparently the endless summer as taken its toll on our native forests & especially with the ferns which need a lot of moisture & frequent rain.

We had a break & ate our lunch in Poley Bay and while we were sitting there a family came climbing over the rocks, they’d been exploring as the tide went out. It was a surprise to see them as it was a long way in and quite a strenuous hike to where we were. The two little boys were two & five & had walked the whole way. They were now headed back & Dad said as long as they didn’t push them they'd make it all by themselves. Although the wee one must have finally decided enough was enough as we caught a glimpse of them on the last section before home with the boy riding on his dad’s shoulders.

The climb out of Poley Bay was very steep and slow, we were both relieved to get back to the carpark at Fletchers Bay, especially as it had just started raining although that didn't seem to stop the campers from enjoying themselves.

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